Realising Transition Pathways

Research

Summary

The Consortium aims to develop the approach taken in the original Transition Pathways project, and use the specific pathways, tools and approaches developed as a basis for further analysis of the challenges invovled in realising a transition to a UK low-carbon electricity system.

This will involve new studies of historical transition experience, of 'branching points' on pathways, strategic issues (including horizon scanning of medium-term technological developments on the supply-side, the network infrastructure and the demand-side), as well as network, market simulation and behavioural modelling, with 'whole systems' appraisal' of key energy technologies and the full pathways within a 'sustainability framework'.

Transition pathways
Figure: Possible Transition Pathways and the Factors that Influence them

The figure above depicts factors that characterise the technological, infrastructural and institutional aspects of energy systems and influences on possible transition pathways (this figure is informed by an international research programme on ‘transitions in socio-technical systems’).

These influences flow from both ‘bottom up’, through social and technological innovation and experimentation, and from ‘top down’, through wider international, environmental and cultural factors.

The project team will examine the dynamics of a transition to a UK low carbon electricity system by:

  • Analysing actors' choices and decisions within past, current and prospective dynamic changes in electricity supply and demand systems, including learning from analogous socio-technical systems
  • Undertaking detailed analysis of social, behavioural and technical drivers and implictions of demand side responses and their integration into electricity systems
  • Undertaking techno-economic system modelling and energy and environmental assessments of the developments in electricity supply (including transmission and distribution networks) required to meet this responsive demand.

These elements will be drawn together to form a detailed whole systems analysis of the technical, environmental, economic and social implications of a set of transition pathways and associated technologies, though quantitative modelling and analysis of electricity systems and infrastructures, and qualitative assessment of the roles of government, market and civil society actors.